“When you see a good move, wait – look for a better one.” – Emanuel Lasker, 2nd World Chess Champion
The chess game is divided, due to different chess strategic and tactical patterns, into three phases: the chess opening, the middlegame, and the endgame. The chess opening contains the first moves when both sides endeavor to develop their forces into the sphere of action where they will exercise the greatest power against the opponent’s defenses. The middlegame is the developed phase of the game and then comes the endgame when most of the pieces are gone and kings start to take an active part in the struggle.
There are dozens of different openings, varying widely in character from quiet positional play to very aggressive. In some opening lines, the exact sequence considered best for both sides has been worked out to 30-35 moves or more. Professional players spend years studying openings and continue doing so throughout their careers, as opening theory continues to evolve. A new sequence of moves in the opening is referred to as a “theoretical novelty”. When kept secret until used in a competitive game it is often known as a “prepared variation”, and can be a formidable weapon even in top-class competition.
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What Are The Goals During Opening
At higher levels of competition, for many years the main objectives of opening play were to obtain the best position when playing as White and to equalize when playing as Black. The idea behind this is that playing first gives White a slight initial advantage; for example, White will be the first to attack if the game opens symmetrically (Black mirrors White’s moves).
Aimlessly playing the chess opening may result in your opponent getting a huge advantage.
For most openings, the fundamental chess strategic aims are similar:
- Develop your pieces – rapidly mobilize the pieces on useful squares where they will have an impact on the game, keeping them in harmonious communication.
- Move your king to safety – the king is vulnerable due to his initial placement in the middle of the chessboard, which is usually reduced by castling.
- Control the center – control of the central squares allows pieces to be moved to any part of the board relatively easily, and can also have a cramping effect on the opponent. It is not always necessary or even desirable to occupy the center with pieces physically; in this way, and that too broad a pawn front could be attacked and destroyed, leaving its architect vulnerable; an impressive-looking pawn center is worth little unless it can be maintained. Instead, the center can be controlled from a distance, breaking down one opponent’s center, and only taking over the center ones.
- Prevention of pawn weakness – most chess openings strive to avoid the creation of pawn weaknesses such as isolated, doubled, and backward pawns, pawn islands, etc. At the same time, some other openings sacrifice these endgame considerations for a quick attack on the opponent’s position
- Piece coordination- As each player mobilizes his or her pieces, each attempts to assure that they are working harmoniously towards the control of key squares.
There is also a psychological element in choosing a chess opening to play: try to drag the opponent into types of positions with which you are more familiar and more comfortable playing than him
Classification of Chess Openings
All the openings are classified by the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings, you can view all of them by clicking here.
The beginning chess position offers White twenty possible first moves. Black has twenty possible responses to White?s opening move. Of these, 1.e4, 1.d4, 1.Nf3, and 1.c4 are by far the most popular as these moves do the most to promote rapid development and control of the center.
A simple descriptive grouping of the chess opening is:
- Double King Pawn or Open Games (1.e4 e5)
- Single King Pawn or Semi-Open Games (1.e4 other than e5 move)
- Double Queen Pawn or Closed Games (1.d4 d5)
- Single Queen Pawn or Semi-Closed Games (1.d4 other than d5 move)
- Flank openings (including 1.c4, 1.Nf3, 1.f4, and others)
- Unusual first moves
Open Games (1.e4 e5)
This is the most popular opening move in chess history ? and remains such today. Bobby Fischer rated 1.e4 as “best by test”. If Black mirrors White?s move and replies with 1…e5, the result is an open game.
1. e4 (and the mirror reply by black) have many visible strengths: immediately works on controlling the center, frees two pieces (the queen and a bishop). On the downside, it places a pawn on an undefended square and weakens d4 and f4 for White (and d5 and f5 for Black).
The most popular chess opening in this position is the Spanish Game (2. Kf3 Kc6 3.Bb5) and the Petrov?s Defense (2.Kf3 Kf6). In most variants these chess openings lead to positional balanced game.
Semi-open games (1.e4, Black plays something other than 1…e5)
In the semi-open games White plays 1.e4 and Black breaks symmetry immediately by replying with a move other than 1…e5.
The most popular Black breaking symmetry response to 1.e4 is the Sicilian (1…c5), the French (1…e6) or the Caro-Kann (1…c6) openings. In most variants these chess openings lead to unbalanced positions with sharp play for both sides
Closed games (1.d4 d5)
These moves offers the same benefits to development and center control that open games do, but unlike with the king pawns undefended after the first move, the pawns are protected by queens. This slight difference has a tremendous effect on the opening.
The most important closed openings are in the Queen’s Gambit family (White plays 2.c4). The Queen?s Gambit is somewhat misnamed, since White can almost always regain the offered pawn, if desired. In most variants these chess openings lead to positional balanced game.
Semi-open games (1.e4, Black plays something other than 1…e5)
There are several popular asymmetric to 1.d4 replies for Black, each one of them lead to unique system and formation. The most important here to mention are the Indian systems (1.d4 Nf6) and the Dutch Defense (1.d4 f5).
In most variants these chess openings lead to sharp unbalanced game with chances for both sides.
The flank openings are the group of White openings typified by play on one or both flanks. White usually attacks the center from the flanks with pieces rather than occupying it with pawns.
The most popular flank openings are English Opening (1.c4) and R?ti Opening (1.Nf3, characteristically followed by fianchettoing one or both bishops, and without an early d4). In most variants these chess openings lead to positional equal game.
First moves other than the king?s pawn (1.e4), queen?s pawn (1.d4), or flank openings (1.b3, 1.b4, 1.c4, 1.Nf3, 1.f4, or 1.g3) are not regarded as effective ways to exploit White?s first-move advantage and thus are rarely played. Although some of these openings are not actually bad for White, each of the twelve remaining possible first moves suffers one or more of the following defects compared to the more popular choices and cannot be recommended to play in “serious” games:
- too passive for White (e.g. 1.d3, 1.e3, 1.c3, 1.Nc3)
- gratuitously weakens White?s position (e.g., 1.f3, 1.g4)
- does little to aid White?s development or control the center (e.g., 1.a3, 1.a4, 1.h3, 1.h4)
- develops a knight to an inferior square (1.Na3 or 1.Nh3)
Tips for Chess Openings
So, what are the basic chess opening strategies that kids at beginner level should learn?
1. Move the most important piece out early.
In other words, develop the chess pieces. Itis one of the basic chess opening strategies that kids will always hear from their coaches. They are discouraged to focus on just one or two pieces, like the Queen. Why? Because getting the important pieces out on the battlefield early increases the chances of controlling the center when there are still plenty of empty squares.
2. Gain control of the center.
The center squares of the chessboard are the most strategic positions. From there, the pieces can attack and defend from different directions.
3. Castle the King.
The King is the most crucial piece, but it’s also the weakest. To avoid a checkmate, the King has to be castled early in the game. That means pushing it aside towards the corner where it is protected by the pawns.
4. Master one chess opening variation.
Chess has been existing for hundreds or thousands of years. That’s why there are plenty of time-tested chess opening variations that are proven to be effective. But for beginners, mastering one is enough. After all, studying each chess variation takes a lot of time and effort. It will be more confusing to learn various methods at the same time. To master one, kids should practice and familiarize themselves with the moves, structures, and variations.
5. Choose a chess opening that looks interesting
You must find a chess opening that piques your interest not something that looks boring to you from the start. This way, you will be driven to understand that chess opening more and enjoy the process of learning. You can begin with the easiest openings or with those that are used by grandmaster-level players. You may also opt for tactical and highly aggressive openings that involve lots of attacking. If you are the quiet type, then go for more those that have slow buildup.
6. Focus on the core concepts of the opening
If you want to know how to learn chess openings, then shift your focus. Understand the basic ideas and goals of an opening instead of memorizing every nuance and variation. These technical details will follow as you develop a firm grasp of the fundamentals.
7. Learn the main lines for both sides
The mainline refers to the first eight to ten moves of the opening. These are the only things that you must memorize, and these will be enough to get started.
8. Look for games where your chosen chess opening is used
Search for games played by a very strong chess player who uses the variation of your choice and then analyzes every move. For example, if you want to learn Petroff, then the best games to watch are those of Vladimir Kramnik because he is the strongest contender who is an expert in this opening.
9. There are many strategies – When learning chess openings, you should realize that there are different types of openings that can vary per play. Identifying which strategy to use will depend on your situation or your playing style. Some can involve discreet positional play, while others can be aggressive.
10. You cannot hurry a good opening – Both sides should be able to accomplish their opening in around 30 to 35 moves. Sometimes, it can be more.
11. Learning does not stop once you have mastered the basics – Learning chess openings is an on-going process because opening theory is thriving in the industry. So, even professional players continue to learn and study openings throughout their careers in chess.
12. Apply the fundamentals – In learning chess openings, you will be taught and expected to apply the fundamental strategic objectives, which involves developing the pieces, controlling the center, keeping the king safe, structuring strong pawns, and coordinating the pieces.
13. Play every piece to its optimum square – As you do, develop them in turn and make sure they are on the right square where they can do something important, such as defending the center or helping in your attack.
14. Make a threat – As you develop pieces, make them capable of limiting the freedom of choice of your opponent.
Devise a plan for the opening. Look at the tutorials and videos of expert chess players, to learn the best chess opening moves. Opening, after all, is like issuing a statement to the other player.
Wait and observe before making the move. Look at the move made by your opponent, and try to learn what is behind that move. Every player plays to win, and each player has devised their strategy. Observe and analyze before moving the next piece.
Plan the game before starting. Each player, on either side, has several strategies that they can employ. Be it Sicilian defense or the Italian game, each requires a plan, and not just for the opening moves, but for the subsequent ones too. Hence, studying the moves made by experts can help revise the strategies, build our plan and win the game.
Keep emotions at bay. We do not want others to know our move before we make it. A bland expression and a clear mind are the signs of a winner.
Understand the effectiveness of the pieces, both at the beginning and end. The Bishop and Knight are the best examples here. While they start as equal, in the end, when other pieces are away, the bishop gains more power and can alter the course of the game.
How Can you Learn and Improve in Chess Openings?
Learning and playing chess on your own can give you a great way to release stress. Your skills will develop but at a slow pace. What should be done to escalate the rate of learning and to improve your chess skills? You need to learn the best moves developed over the centuries and apply them when needed. This is where you will need a portal for training to learn chess opening moves and improve your skills.
The ideal way to learn how to open in chess is by getting trained under a chess master. Learning chess openings will become a lot easier when you have an achiever to train you during your leisure hours. It is then that your passion for chess will be fueled. Remember that you will need a proper platform where you can learn how to open chess and play with good players to escalate your skill level.
To find an online platform, you will need to scout on the internet. You will discover many portals for chess training. Get the demo classes done and note down the pros and cons of every chess tutorial portal. Choose the most suitable portal as per your availability, level of a chess master, and level of learning. Concentrate on the tutorial fee and compare. Choose one portal and introduce new to the world of chess.
Get in touch with the best chess tutors online and check their credentials. Take classes online as a beginner for learning chess openings.
This is how you can improve your skills. Follow the plan step by step:
1. Seek online demo classes
A chess coach can be availed of online when you choose a tutorial platform online. Take the demo classes in these portals to understand the level of the coaches and then make a decision.
2. Find the right coach
The next step is to find the right coach for your learning sessions. The portals will describe the credentials of the coach. Check whether you have the flexibility to choose and change a mentor or not. Take the first class to learn chess opening moves.
Use these moves on an online chess game and gather confidence. Learn from the best mentors and practice playing these moves on an online software platform with other players.
Additional Concepts During Learning
Develop a mental list of tactical themes and strategic ideas. Opening games revolve around tactical and strategic themes that follow certain sets of principles and structures. When you study new openings, make a mental mote of common pawn breaks, piece movements and maneuvers, as well as tactical shots. This way, you will be able to recognize similar patterns and ideas in your own games. This will also cause you to actively look for such patterns as you practice or as you go through actual games. Familiarizing yourself with tactical motifs and common strategies is a great way to learn new opening strategies.
Play training games and actively learn from them. It’s been said that to improve in chess, you need to play as much as you can. This is also true when trying to learn new openings. Playing training games geared towards improving your opening strategy is also a smart way to hone your skills and way of thinking, as well as studying classical games played by grandmasters.
A proper opening strategy may provide you the upper hand in a game provide you with tactics to stump your opponent. Chess strategy involves setting and realizing long-term goals while at play, and tactics can let you focus on the moves you can do immediately. They always go together, and if you take up chess lessons online, you could learn the best ways to utilize them from the experts. Guidance from chess experts can help you pick up and develop chess opening strategies that can give you an upper hand over your opponent. Here are a few examples of advanced strategies you can consider:
- The queen may be the strongest piece, but keep a rook or some minor pieces around it to keep her effective.
- Avoid taking this piece too far out while opening, or it could get attacked by your opponent’s minor pieces.
- Pawns are stronger if they are arranged in a chain, so avoid splitting and isolating them into smaller groups. To ensure a strong chain, make sure your pawns are arranged in an inverted V. However, be careful when arranging your pawns and make sure they will not prevent your pieces, particularly the bishop, from moving freely.
- Hanging or isolated pawns are typically a liability, so avoid them up until towards the end of the game. Doubled pawns are weak, so avoid them as much as you can.
- Develop your bishops early to prevent them from being bogged by your pawns, which can block the diagonal movements.
- Bishops do well with open diagonals. A pair of bishops in this type of set up can put you at an advantage.
- Figure out the value and plan the movement of your knights accordingly. They typically play well in locked and complex positions.
- You could get an upper hand over your opponent if you have knights on d6 and e6, so try to place them there and make sure they have good support.
- Keep your knights in the center of the board where they play well, unless your tactical plan requires them to be on the sides.
- Rooks are like bishops, so they play better with a few open files. Control open files with them. Consider two rooks in a similar open file to make it easier to attack.
- Positioning a rook on the seventh or eighth row can be troublesome for your opponent. Two rooks there may provide gain of material or a mating attack.
Chess Opening History
Major changes in the rules of chess in the late fifteenth century increased the speed of the game, consequently emphasizing the importance of the opening study. At that time first chess books began to present chess opening analyses. But the chess opening theory was given only in the middle of the nineteenth century when many opening variations were discovered and named in this period and later.
The oldest openings tend to be named for geographic places and people (like Sicilian Defense or Grunfeld Defense), later openings tended to be named after nationalities (like Spanish or French Openings). More prosaic descriptions include Two Knights and Four Knights. Descriptive names are less common than openings named for places and people.
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Key Understandings About Openings
Chess opening moves pretty much set the tone for how your game will unfold, which is why developing strong opening strategies is critical if you want to dominate the game of chess. The way you decide to place your chess pieces during the start of a game is important because any mistake you make during this time will be reflected in the way that the rest of the game is played. Poor decisions right at the beginning of your chess match can cost you not only the middle game but the entire game altogether. Just the same, a strong opening tactic will give you a leg up and ensure your victory.
With chess being over a thousand years in existence, many opening tactics have not only been extensively studied, but also named and played, and developed by grandmasters the world over. This said, simply memorizing chess opening moves will not really guarantee your victory. The key is understanding the principles behind each move and the way that they should affect your decisions throughout the rest of the game. Learning how these opening moves work to your advantage will help you use them well as you go through your matches. This will also help you improvise your own sets of tactics as you navigate your way around different challenges your opponents might bring.
Knowing the right kind of chess opening moves to play also has a lot to do with learning the kind of player you are and the kinds of strategies and tactics you like implementing as you go along your matches. Defensive players may have different preferences for strategic openings than offensive players and vice versa. Different chess openings are tailored for different kinds of game styles and learning where you stand when it comes to tactics and strategies will help you determine which kinds of moves will be most effective for you to use.
Every master chess player started out as a novice. To become better, you need to learn, study, and identify certain strategies, and apply them by practicing and playing with others. Learning chess openings is one of the essential things you should consider if you want to be better. Chess openings are the series of first moves both sides do to develop their pieces and make the game go in their favor. The objective is to establish power against the defenses of the opponent. With a good opening, you should be able to improve your chance of winning.